The much-maligned Buffalo Bills defense had another weak game on Sunday, allowing Chris Johnson to run for over 190 yards and the Tennessee Titans offense to put up 35 points in a one-point loss. After the game, the players and coaches were downtrodden about the outcome.
"I wish I could tell you [why it keeps happening]," said defensive end Chris Kelsay. "I really do. It is embarrassing. We have to watch the film and we have to come up with answers. We get a week off, which is unfortunate in and of itself because we really are not banged up. We just have to sit with this in our mouth for an extra week. We had a good setup being 3-3 and the AFC East was still wide open. We really put ourselves in a bind."
Johnson ripped off an 83-yard touchdown run on the Titans' second possession, sprinting untouched for 70 yards before waltzing the final space to the end zone.
"He told us he was going to," said Kelsay of Johnson's breakout game. "He challenged us and we did not step up to the plate. We had guys out of gaps, and he is the type of guy who if you give him a crease he is going to hit it. He has the speed, the agility and the capability to take it the distance, as he showed. We have to look at the film, but we just did not play accountable to the guy next to us."
"Fundamentally the gap positions just didn’t fit things right," said Mario Williams. "And with that back (Chris Johnson), like I said earlier this week he’s going to hit that crease and he’s gone. He’s super-fast, and like I said, if you give him that crease he’s going to take it. Whenever he hits those holes… you know, that was the game."
Defensive captain George Wilson added his take: that players were missing their assignments, which caused the holes for some of the big gains.
"It was just guys not being where they were supposed to be and you saw that," Wilson said. "I do not know how long that run was, but you saw the long run as a result. You cannot be inconsistent in your run fits and in your tackling when you are expected to be a good defense."
"Well, we had mistakes," added linebacker Nick Barnett. "We went in wrong holes, did not box, did not hammer when we were supposed to be inside, just different things. I think he had three really big, explosive plays. And that is what it equated to. We have to clean those mistakes up. Against a back like that you cannot make any mistakes. If you give him any ground he is going to take off running. So we have to clean that up."
Head coach Chan Gailey spoke with the media after the game, saying the team wouldn't make a change to the defensive coaching staff during the season. That doesn't mean they won't look at the personnel during the bye week. With the additions to the squad this past off-season and the elevation of Dave Wannstedt to defensive coordinator, Gailey, like the fans, expected a much better defense than what we have been seeing.
"I did not think we would give up as many yards as we have given up. No. I did not foresee that," said Gailey after the game. "We just have to find out exactly what the problems are, and we are not solving them right now. If we do not, we are in for a long year. We have to solve them."
Despite the poor play during the game, Tennessee still needed a late score to go ahead.
"On that last drive, if you would’ve asked me or told me we’re putting our defense on the field with a minute to go in the game and it’s 4th-and-10 plus with a minute to go to win the game and put it away, I would’ve said there’s no doubt," said
Wilson is expected to lead the team on the field as a captain, but a blown play on Tennessee's final drive (not counting their kneel downs) left "The Senator" blaming himself for the loss.
"I personally feel like it was on me. I had an opportunity to get an interception and I did not come up with the ball, which would have sealed the victory," said the former wide receiver. "It would not have allowed them a fourth down. It would not have put our offense back on the field in a position of having to get points for us to win the game. Those are the plays we need to make in order to be a good football team. I did not make that play, and I personally feel like it is on me."
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams had some strong words about the defense after the game, saying the team was over-hyped.
"You're not very talented if you're doing what we've been doing, okay?," he continued. "I've said it from the very beginning when we were at training camp. Talent doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what things look like on paper, what you say. 'We're going to be good, because look at this sheet of paper.' That doesn't matter."
"We feel like we brought in the guys to really solidify our defense, both run and pass," said Kelsay. "We got Kyle (Williams) back. I do not know. I wish I could put my finger on it. I do not think anybody in this locker room can."